Over $1.1 million committed to neurological research across New Zealand

Friday, 11 December, 2015

The Neurological Foundation is pleased to announce that funding $1,123,989 for neurological research projects, three postgraduate scholarships, two postdoctoral fellowships, three summer studentships and educational travel grants has been approved in its December 2015 grant round. The Neurological Foundation is the primary non-government sponsor of neurological research in New Zealand.

Neurological Foundation Executive Director Max Ritchie says this grant round showcases the breadth of emerging talent working towards better patient outcomes in New Zealand’s world-class neurological research environment.

“The Foundation received a record number of applications from young investigators applying for fellowship and scholarship grants in this round. And the majority of research grants were awarded to innovative, high-quality projects submitted by emerging scientists at universities and research institutions across the country. Our established research leaders who have received funding support from the Foundation during their careers are now fostering the next generation of talent.”

One of these emerging scientists is Dr Rebekah Blakemore, based at the University of Otago, Christchurch, who has been awarded $144,817 to determine the processes involved in the suppression of voluntary tremors in Parkinson’s disease. The Neurological Foundation awarded the 2015 Repatriation Fellowship to Dr Blakemore in the December 2014 grant round, enabling her to return from her post in Geneva to continue her movement-focused research work with Parkinson’s disease patients under the guidance of Christchurch-based neurologist Professor Tim Anderson. Once her repatriation fellowship is completed in March 2016, Dr Blakemore will begin this project, investigating a patient-focused therapeutic approach with Parkinson’s disease patients in Professor Anderson’s clinic.

Ms Ruth Monk has been awarded the Neurological Foundation Gillespie Postgraduate Scholarship and will work under the supervision of New Zealand’s leading human brain stem cell researcher, Associate Professor Bronwen Connor, in her University of Auckland Neural Reprogramming and Repair laboratory. Ms Monk’s research will use a breakthrough technique recently advanced by Associate Professor Connor to develop a cell model of Huntington’s Disease (HD) by reprogramming skin cells from patients with HD into the specific brain cell type lost in this condition. This model will be used to study the processes involved in cell death and to investigate underlying disease mechanisms such as inflammation and oxidative stress.

The Neurological Foundation is an independent body and charitable trust and its funding has facilitated many of New Zealand’s top neurological researchers’ pioneering breakthroughs. Without the ongoing support of individual New Zealanders, the Foundation could not commit to progressing research to the high level that it does. The Neurological Foundation receives no government funding.